Mouthing Off

Fighting fire with fire: Sally Rock and Dale Goin have had more than their share of ups and downs with the space at 1585 South Pearl originally occupied by their Philadelphia Filly--several attempts to sell the restaurant or have someone else take it over have fallen through, and the group that briefly turned the spot into Flickers nearly ran it into the ground--but so far, the couple has always bounced back. Their most recent bad luck? A small kitchen fire caused by an electrical malfunction, with smoke damage extending far beyond the kitchen. So once again, the duo will redo the place, this time renaming it Filly Bistro and giving its interior a Mediterranean feel, with lots of texture and earthy tones.

They'll rework the menu, too, adding a heavier emphasis on soups--although they plan to keep the popular gourmet cheesesteak. The soups will play off their other current venture, an old-fashioned-looking diner cart parked on the 16th Street Mall (at Cleveland Street) and named after their first Filly. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, the cart dishes up piping-hot soups such as chicken noodle, cream of asparagus, Mexican sweet potato and cinnamon chicken with pinto beans; the $2-a-cup and $3-a-bowl tab includes bread--seven-grain, croissant and other homemade specialties. But the best deal is that you can sample the soup before you make your selection. Since soup is predicted to be one of 1997's hot sellers, Rock and Goin plan to tour some of New York's offerings--Soup Kitchen International (made infamous by the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld), Soup Nutsey and Daily Soup--in April.

The two, who will reopen the Bistro on February 4, just returned from a tour of Chile's vineyards; during a stopover in Los Angeles, they popped in to see their old friend (and my former employer) Peter St. John. St. John, who closed his Tango two years ago, now runs the kitchen at Otto's Grill & Beer Bar. Considering the name and St. John's heritage, Rock had expected a German biergarten; she was surprised and delighted to be served moonfish on orange marmalade couscous, goat-cheese-covered pizzas a la Wolfgang Puck (who reportedly loves chef St. John and has borrowed him for several celebrity dinners) and what Rock describes as a "beautifully presented" antipasti buffet.

According to Rock, St. John doesn't miss Denver much--but I sure miss his talents.

What's going on: Many of the best chefs remaining in Denver will take part in the fifteenth annual Great Chefs of the West February 24. This fundraiser for the National Kidney Foundation of Colorado costs $65 per person and includes wine and beer tastings, hors d'oeuvre and dinner...Celebrate Mardi Gras at Mel's Bar and Grill (300 Fillmore Street) on February 10 with a three-course meal for $27 per person, or, for the same price, head to Top Hat (1512 Larimer Street) for four courses...The Westin Hotel, Tabor Center (1672 Lawrence Street) has a Phantom of the Opera deal going: $265 per couple nets Saturday night orchestra seats and a room at the hotel; the Westin's elegant Augusta restaurant has a three-course pre-theater special for $28 per person, along with a guarantee that diners will be out in time for curtain call.



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